Saturday, December 30, 2006

What if?

Saddam is dead. I'm guess I am supposed to be excited and, like Sean Hannity, slobbering all over myself with glee. After all, I participated in the first war against him. But I'm not. War crimes convictions have always struck me as victor's justice-the bringing of the cycle of violence to a close. Plus on the whole, I do not support capital punishment-for a whole host of reasons I'll spare you here. Suffice it to say. I just believe there are certain judgments that need to left up to God alone.

I have no feeling at all about this. It was an inevitable result and one that you knew was going to happen-from the moment the troops crossed the Kuwati frontier in March of 2003. It probably would have saved considerable time and effort, if the troops that captured him had just shot him in 2003. The end result is the same.

Now mind you, I'm not blind to the fact that Saddam showed no mercy to anyone who got in his way. And if the tables were turned, the hangings would have been plentiful. So there is plenty of reason to dispatch this man, who caused so much misery in the 60+ years of his life. If you believe in Divine Justice, then he will be additionally punished for the rest of eternity. Problem is, no amount of retribution will bring back the dead; the over 500,000 to 1,000,000 (depending on whose numbers you believe) dead who have died in the tapestry that has been the Middle East for the last 25 years.

There are plenty of people here on the earth who wanted to see him hang. Ordinary Iraqis who suffered, or whose family suffered or died under his rule. Iranians, who lost family members in a war he started; that in the end accomplished nothing for either country. Arab leaders, who should have killed Saddam for invading Kuwait and, in consequence, bringing a large American military presence into the region-increasing their difficulties 10 fold. Americans, who have lost a loved one or had their lives disrupted by the requirement to deploy to Iraq in pursuit of an everchanging goal.

So its done. I'm hoping against hope that the pundits and politicians will avoid using the words, "turning point for Iraq". Its not. Tomorrow, Saddam will still be dead, the Iraqi government will still be unable to govern competently, and 140,000 American troops will still be in Iraq-never able to leave. For Iraq tomorrow will be just another day. The turning point came when his government fell. This is just the finishing up of the paper work and the balancing of the books.

However I can't help wondering if there were times that Saddam sat in his cell and wondered if there was one thing, just one thing he should have done differently. Obviously, in hindsight, there were a LOT of things he should have done differently, but if I had to boil it down to one thing, it would be this.

He should never have invaded Kuwait. Something tells me that deep in his mind he realized that this last year. If he had never given the order to invade Kuwait in 1990-the odds are pretty good he would still be alive and in power today.

Its interesting to realize how much of world history turned on that one decision he made. Consider:

-If Saddam had never invaded Kuwait, America would have not kept an large military presence in the region for the last 15 years. The Trucial states of the gulf would have had to develop on a basis of economic competition, unsupported by artificial stimuli created by massive US military investment. Also a smaller military presence in the Gulf would actually have helped the US to have a greater impact in the region, because American businessmen would have been able to be involved to a greater degree in the region.

-If Iraq had never invaded Kuwait, the twin towers might still be standing. Bin Laden would probably have taken his anger out against something else besides the United States, because troops would never have been in Saudi Arabia-save for the small AWACS and tanker contingent that had been there through the 80's. He might just have become just another wealthy Arab construction mogul.

-If Iraq had never invaded Kuwait. Qatar and Dubai would have continued their economic growth-with out the drain of having to walk the fine line with other Arab nations about American military deployments.

-Iran would have still been Iran, but they would have had hostile powers on 2 of 3 borders. It would have probably tempered their military ambitions to some degree as they would have had to always worry about Iraq on their border. Interestingly enough, it probably would have been an Iraq supported by the United States. How's that for irony.

-Kuwait would have developed differently politically.

-Oil prices and markets would probably have still gone up because of the effect of China's ever increasing thirst for oil on the markets.

-The US elections of 1992 and 2000 might have turned out far differently.

-Israel might not have gotten as much of a pass on the Palestinian issue. Then again they might have, because the Middle East would have been a lot more stable and people would have just let the issue smolder.

- European relations with the United States might have been very, very, different.

Yes, I think if you wanted to pick just one particular event that Saddam had wished he could have undone, instead of saying "Go invade Kuwait", he should have said, "Please pass the dates". Imagine how much of history would have changed if had.

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UPDATE! You KNEW it was going to happen. The execution video is on the web!
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